Prime time for control of buffel grass in the Pilbara

Found in: News

Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) is a species of grass native to Africa and India that was, and still is, widely planted as a pasture grass in Australia. This species has become a widespread weed in most vegetation types from Geraldton to the Pilbara and the adjacent desert. As buffel grass is hardy, deep rooted and drought tolerant it is able to thrive and often out-compete native species.

Despite being able to grow in semi-arid conditions, buffel grass benefits from significant rainfall events. Buffel grass seeds germinate rapidly, but require between 20 and 25 millimetres (mm) of rain for this to occur, as the seeds need to be moist from three to five days in order to germinate. Once germinated, buffel grass can mature, flower and set seed in as little time as six weeks; and it produces a large amount of seed which is easily dispersed throughout the adjacent environment.

Recent rainfall associated with tropical low pressure systems and tropical cyclone Olwyn has resulted in heavy rainfall in the Pilbara during the month of March. On the 12th and 13th March, rainfall values above 20 mm were recorded in many Pilbara towns, including an astounding 142 mm recorded at Barrow Island and 97 mm at Onslow.

Dr Mariana Campos, one of Astron’s Scientists says that “especially during summer months, buffel grass can germinate and mature rapidly following rainfall. In the Pilbara we normally recommend on-ground control within 2-3 weeks of rain during the warmer months and within 3-6 weeks of rain in the cooler months. Therefore the ideal response time to the recent rain is about now.”

Astron has a dedicated team of weed scientists and technicians who have been actively involved in numerous buffel grass control programs in the Pilbara region of Western Australia over the past 15 years.

“Our team has a vast amount of experience in weed management including both on-ground control and monitoring. The size, experience and capability of our team means that we can quickly respond to germination events resulting from significant rainfall, something that is critical for any successful weed management program,” said Dr Campos.

As well as an experienced and trained team of scientists and technicians, Astron operate state of the art weed control equipment, including a fleet of fully mine compliant vehicles, fitted out with industry leading QuikSpray® boom and jetting systems. For further information on our services refer to our weed management page or contact us directly on 9421 9600.


The Australian Government Department of the Environment recently published a threat abatement advice for Ecosystem degradation, habitat loss and species decline in arid and semi-arid Australia due to the invasion of buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris and C. pennisetiformis). This document was developed in response to the nomination for the inclusion of ‘invasion of Cenchrus ciliaris and C. Pennisetiformis’ on the list of key threatening processes under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. More information on this advice can be found here


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